“Everyone, welcome to Jaegyeong Uni's Business Management freshmen orientation!”
Kang Jin-Ho and Park Yu-Min stepped inside the auditorium just as that announcement came out of the loudspeakers.
Park Yu-Min grumbled unhappily, “We're late, you know.”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted, “I can see that.”
“We should've been here thirty minutes ago.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I told you to go the other way. How can you get lost inside the campus?”
“...Yes, I get it.”
"And what did you get!"
Kang Jin-Ho's shoulders slumped in defeat at Park Yu-Min's sharp glare.
They managed to arrive at the campus on time. However, the real problem started with locating the auditorium. It was like trying to navigate through a maze-like fortress. The deeper Kang Jin-Ho went into the campus, the twistier and more confusing the road network became. As a result, they found themselves going around in circles for the last thirty minutes.
Only after Park Yu-Min repeatedly pleaded with him did Kang Jin-Ho listen to his friend and finally locate the correct path. That was the reason for their delay, but even then...! How could Park Yu-Min criticize his friend this much for getting lost this one time!
‘Park Yu-Min, you bastardddd!’
“Look, there's an empty spot over there. Let's go,” said Park Yu-Min while pointing at the back of the auditorium.
“Fine,” Kang Jin-Ho replied in a subdued voice.
Despite his displeasure, he couldn't say anything. He was well aware of his guilt, after all! He could only pout while silently following Park Yu-Min. But then, his phone rang to snap him out of his internal grumbling. He took it out and answered the call.
- Where are you two?!
“We've just arrived inside the auditorium.”
Kang Jin-Ho's reply prompted a girl in the audience to raise her hand and wave back at him.
“It's Se-Yeon,” said Park Yu-Min. He then made his way to Han Se-Yeon's position while trying not to inconvenience the already-seated people.
Han Se-Yeon welcomed them. “Here. I've reserved these seats for you two. Hurry and sit down.”
“Sorry for being late,” Park Yu-Min apologized to her.
“It's fine. I know it can't be your fault, Yu-Min. That idiot must've gotten lost again, didn't he?”
Park Yu-Min replied with a sheepish chuckle, “You're shockingly correct, but, uhm...”
"...Ahem." Kang Jin-Ho, with no excuses at hand, pretended as if he didn’t hear Han Se-Yeon.
“Shh! The orientation is about to begin.”
The auditorium was surprisingly packed, considering that this was only an orientation seminar for the freshmen joining the Business Management course and not the entire university. That was why it felt like far too many people were in attendance.
Park Yu-Min looked around and asked quietly, “Why are there so many people in Business Management?”
"This is normal, you know," said Han Se-Yeon. "It's a business-related major, after all. That's why the students will be split into several different classes. Wait, don't tell me, you didn't see the public notice?"
"Wait, what? Students will be split into classes? B-but, that's not good..." Park Yu-Min's expression quickly became flustered. He decided to attend a university because of his belief in Kang Jin-Ho's promise, so it would be a massive problem if they got separated and couldn't attend the lectures together.
Han Se-Yeon quickly allayed his fears, however. “No need to fret, my dear boy. You and Jin-Ho are in the same class.”
“Oh, really?” Park Yu-Min's complexion brightened instantly. “What about you, though?”
“Unfortunately...” Han Se-Yeon sighed deeply.
“Are you assigned to a different class?”
She shook her head ruefully. "Nope. Same as you two."
"Huh? What's unfortunate about that?"
“You know why…”
“Uh...” Park Yu-Min began looking weirdly at Han Se-Yeon. “It's unfortunate for you because we're in the same class?”
Han Se-Yeon grinned mischievously. "I'm just kidding. It's a joke."
“Huh-uh. You might cause a big misunderstanding like that.”
Jaegyeong Uni's standard practice was to automatically assign classes for the first semester of all freshmen. If you were not happy about it, you could reapply and get reassigned to lectures on a different schedule. However, newbies rarely did that since this arrangement helped them get used to the campus life, even if this type of class arrangement would become more or less meaningless as the semester went on.
The orientation presentation wasn't anything special. It contained the usual suspects of explanations on lectures and other things to remember during your campus life.
“Well, everyone. Now, let's go outside and gather into our assigned groups!” The speaker energetically announced, prompting the freshmen to noisily get up and leave the auditorium. The senior students holding placards were waiting for them outside.
Kang Jin-Ho stood behind the senior holding up a placard that read 'Business Management Class C,’ which was his class. Once enough people had gathered around, the placard senior guided the freshmen toward an unoccupied section of the lawn. It was now time to chat with each other and introduce themselves when their turn came around.
Park Yu-Min trembled a little. “I, I'm kinda nervous.”
“How come?” Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head.
“Aren't you nervous, Jin-Ho?”
“Not at all.”
Park Yu-Min cleared his throat nervously a few times while waiting for his turn to come.
“Next person, please speak.”
Finally, his turn arrived. Park Yu-Min ungainly got up from his spot on the lawn and scratched the back of his head sheepishly. “H-Hello. I'm Park Yu-Min from Dongmyeong High.”
His self-introduction was quite simple, but the response he got was definitely not.
“Wait, Park Yu-Min?” someone from the male students suddenly shouted. “It really is him! It's Park Yu-Min!”
“Wow, I couldn't recognize him without his team uniform! It is Park Yu-Min, the pro gamer!”
"I heard he's attending our university but didn't know he was in our department!"
A level of interest that could only be described as intense began pouring out toward Park Yu-Min. This wasn't surprising considering that every guy here was either just past their teens or in their early twenties, and quite a few of them were interested in the world of pro gaming as well. That was how they quickly recognized one of esports’ rising stars, Park Yu-Min.
Unfortunately for the person in question, he was still not used to this sort of recognition yet. He whispered a question while sitting back down, “D-did I do something wrong?”
“Nah,” Kang Jin-Ho replied with a shake of his head.
“Excuse me, freshman?”
“Y-yes?” Park Yu-Min hurriedly stood back up.
"Are you Park Yu-Min, the pro gamer?"
“Y-yes, I am.”
The senior asking that question clapped his hands. “Everyone, a round of applause!”
The gathered freshmen joined him and began clapping without knowing why.
"Everyone! You're now looking at the ace of Class C! The rising sun of our class! And now, he will bring home every prize money and reward for our university's Galaxy Craft inter-campus tournaments for this year! A round of applause for our ace, everyone!"
Loud cheering and clapping erupted from the male students.
Park Yu-Min stood there utterly lost, half-dying of embarrassment as his face blushed uncontrollably. "I, I... I'm just, uhm..."
The senior continued. "Any classmates interested in learning from Park Yu-Min, line up in a queue with a lunch meal ticket on hand, okay!"
Laughter exploded from the group in response. Park Yu-Min, still lost and confused, quickly sat down again. What a weird feeling he was getting right now.
“Next person, please stand up.”
Kang Jin-Ho got up. “I'm Kang Jin-Ho, also from Dongmyeong High.”
That was all he said before sitting down again. The menfolk stayed quiet this time, but the ladies began murmuring to each other instead. It sounded like they had noticed his perfectly-balanced facial features, which came about after the recent completion of Kang Jin-Ho’s total body modification process.
However, Kang Jin-Ho wasn't bothered by the gazes of the opposite sex as he had already mastered the method to ignore this type of 'interest.'
The placard senior rubbed his chin. "Hmm... After a pro gamer, we now have a potential future celebrity? Mister Jin-Ho, are you interested in joining a talent agency in the near future?"
“No, I'm not.”
“Everyone, it seems the South Korean entertainment industry has just lost a potential superstar.”
The group exploded into another round of laughter.
“Okay, next person, please!”
Han Se-Yeon got up next. “Hi, everyone. I'm Han Se-Yeon, also from Dongmyeong High School. My hobby is singing, but I don't have any particular specialties. My wish is to spend this year having fun and making good memories.”
She spoke in a polite tone and kept her comments concise. Of course, Kang Jin-Ho still stared at her with a face that said, ‘Stop being so fakey, will you?’ Han Se-Yeon frowned ever so slightly at that.
This time, it was the turn of the male students to smile gently in her direction. Han Se-Yeon was one of the top idolized girls back in high school by the male population, and her face was pretty enough for Kang Jin-Ho's old self to even pine for her. Not to forget, her outward personality also seemed pretty nice. So, she seemed like an ideal girlfriend type.
As she settled down, Kang Jin-Ho whispered to her, “Really? Don't you know when to stop?”
“Shut up, or I'm gonna torment you for the rest of today!” She quietly threatened him even though her lips were closed. Her power of ventriloquism immediately shut Kang Jin-Ho's mouth.
The introduction of the rest of the class eventually came to an end. The senior put the placard down and smiled brightly. “Well, then! Many other activities have been prepared for today, but truth be told, that's what the higher-ups told us to do! Let me ask you, what do you think is absolutely essential in getting close to other people?!”
Almost everyone replied in unison, “It's booze!”
“Yes! Let's go and drink to our future!”
The sudden change in plans meant everyone was now heading to a nearby bar even though the sun was still high up in the sky. The class settled down in their spots, forcing seniors from other classes that had arrived a little too late to groan and seek alternate establishments. Judging from their reactions, this particular bar must have been a well-known watering hole in the university. The Class C senior triumphantly declared. "Did you all see that? This is why speed is everything!"
“You're the best, senior!”
Kang Jin-Ho and his friends occupied a table of their own. Park Yu-Min was always going to stick next to Kang Jin-Ho, anyway. Meanwhile, Kang Jin-Ho himself didn't feel a particular need to join other tables, so he chose an empty one instead. As for Han Se-Yeon, she seemed initially hesitant before settling down next to Kang Jin-Ho.
She sighed in disappointment. “To think that I must hang out with you guys even in my university life...”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted, "You can leave, then."
“What? Do you really think I won't? I'm only joining you out of pity here. I can already imagine you two sitting here by yourselves, looking like lost sheep.”
“We'll be fine. So, leave.”
“...May I sit here, Lord Kang Jin-Ho, sir?”
Kang Jin-Ho grinned. "I shall permit it."
Han Se-Yeon guffawed and settled down. Despite her bravado, she still felt a little intimidated by the prospect of meeting new people.
Booze soon reached the tables, and the power of alcohol soon loosened people up enough to make them relax and more talkative. Those with outgoing personalities even began table-hopping with their glasses in tow.
"Hmm..." Han Se-Yeon observing her surroundings suddenly shrugged.
“What's the matter?” Park Yu-Min asked her.
She replied in an unconcerned manner, “University isn't much, I guess.”
“You think so? It's all so weird for me, you know?”
"Nah, everything looks the same to me."
Kang Jin-Ho agreed with Han Se-Yeon's assessment. The scenes of idealized campuses as seen on TV were just that, fakes cooked up to make their dramas more interesting. In the end, universities were just like everywhere else populated by human beings. Nothing was special about them, and there was nothing to be surprised about here.
“Here, here, here! Juniors, allow me to pour you your next shots.” The senior wielding the placard earlier stopped by at Kang Jin-Ho's table next.
“Ah, yes. Thank you.” Han Se-Yeon politely offered her glass first.
“Your name was Han Se-Yeon, right?”
“My name is Gong Gil-Yeong. Nice to meet you.”
"Nice to meet you, too." Han Se-Yeon bowed slightly.
Gong Gil-Yeong leaned slightly closer to her. "Give me your phone for a sec."
“Yeah, your phone. Don't tell me, you don't have one?”
"No way," said Han Se-Yeon with a slightly cramped expression. She then presented her phone to Gong Gil-Yeong.
The senior saved his contact number on her phone and gave it back. "That's my number, so if you're not sure about something or want to know more about our campus, you can always call me, okay?"
"Thank you." Han Se-Yeon bowed her head again.
Gong Gil-Yeong poured booze into the empty cups of Kang Jin-Ho and Park Yu-Min, then turned his attention back to Han Se-Yeon. He pressed forward a bottle of soju in her way. "How about another glass?"
“I'm fine, actually. I'd like to take it slow, senior.”
“Hmm, that's no good. We'll be heading to another bar later to carry on the proud tradition of sharing the booze bowl, so I wonder, will you be able to survive with your low alcohol tolerance?"
"The booze bowl, you say?"
“Yup, we'll be sharing a booze bowl.”
Han Se-Yeon shook her head. “I'd like to opt out of that, senior.”
“You can't not drink it just because you don't feel like it, though. It's a tradition, after all.”
"...I see." Han Se-Yeon looked somewhat displeased, but she didn't voice it. It seemed more prudent to let it slide for now.
Gong Gil-Yeong lightly waved the soju bottle around. "Alright, so… One more glass, then?"
“But, senior...” Han Se-Yeon tried to politely decline.
But Gong Gil-Yeong wasn't an easily-dissuaded type. "Uh-huh! Your senior is offering you a drink here, so just accept it."
Left with no choice, Han Se-Yeon wordlessly accepted the drink. She furrowed her brow while downing her cup brimming full of soju.
Gong Gil-Yeong grinned. "What's the matter? Too bitter?"
"Yes, senior," Han Se-Yeon replied while covering her mouth.
“Then, have some snacks. Munching on snacks while drinking will solve your problem.”
"...I'll do that."
"Well, then! Time for another round! Downing three shots during a first meeting is the basic of all basics, after all!"
Han Se-Yeon became a little firmer with her refusal. "No, I'm fine, senior. I think I'll stop here for today."
“You've only had a couple of shots, though? Come on, just one more.”
“Senior, it's just that I'm not good with alcohol...”
“No, no, no. That won't do! You gotta get good with drinking to make lots of friends and get close to your seniors more easily. There, there~. Here's one more for you.”
"...Sigh." Han Se-Yeon sighed softly while pushing her cup forward. She wasn't sure if anyone she had met in her life so far was as pushy as this senior. However, with the occasion being what it was, she couldn't really lose her cool or keep refusing.
“There you go, one for Se-Yeon. And... Oh? Why aren't you drinking, Yu-Min?”
Park Yu-Min hurriedly waved his hand. “A-ah, I can't hold down alcohol, senior, that's why.”
“Come on now. No one is good with booze from the get-go. You get better by drinking more, you see? Have one more.”
It was at this moment that Kang Jin-Ho finally broke his silence. "Senior, do you believe you're good at holding your booze?"
“Mm?” Gong Gil-Yeong shifted his attention over to Kang Jin-Ho. “What's up?”
“How about we find out?” Kang Jin-Ho picked up the bottle and poured some booze into Gong Gil-Yeong's cup.
The university senior smirked at the sight of his full cup, then looked back at Kang Jin-Ho. “So, you want to challenge me in drinking, eh? Is that it?”
1. A "booze bowl" is a large bowl meant for cold noodles but would be filled with soju. It's passed around by a group to be shared. ☜